Everybody agrees that the Green Party of Florida (GPFL) Bylaws are a mess, and many also agree that the party’s compliance with them has been a farce. Likewise was the GPFL’s handling of Rose Roby and me being “banned” from the party in February 2015. We were fully readmitted in late 2016. Then party Co-Chair Jennifer Sullivan objected to our presence, and we were re-banned in April 2017, after Rose was chosen by the Pinellas County Green Party to be one of its representatives to the GPFL Coordinating Council (CC).
The Pinellas local protested at the May State Meeting and it was unanimously agreed that the ban would be re-examined at the end of September. Various shenanigans were attempted to force a decision immediately, then by the end of June, then by various points in-between. But these attempts were thwarted. Loud voices denounced us as deliberate saboteurs and infiltrators (“There have never been two individuals who have been more determined to cause damage to the GPFL from the inside than the Robys,” said the other party Co-Chair Victor Agosto) and the Pinellas local itself was threatened with disaffiliation. We soldiered on.
At the same time, our detractors lamented that this controversy itself was destroying the party, the party was dying, the party was too “distracted” to do anything.
The whole thing has been the result of a personal vendetta by Sullivan, since Victor himself had personally assisted Rose in actually getting on the CC’s e-mail list when Rose had been returned to the CC.
Where it starts moving from malignant to hilarious is that amidst all this turmoil, there is as yet no agreed understanding of what Rose and I were purged from. It has ranged from our being banned from being our local’s CC representatives, to banned from any “statewide” participation in the GPFL, to banned from being officers of our own local (Rose is co-chair and I head the Elections Committee), to banned from Green Party membership anywhere in the United States. We even got to argue over what had been unanimously passed at the State Meeting because nobody had remembered to take minutes.
Now the farce goes into overdrive, with the GPFL trying to form a Bylaws Committee (BC) to attempt to get its house in order so that it can handle this affair at all.
But first they had to get past forming the BC itself. It was announced that the BC was open to any party member, so I joined as the BC was important to the Pinellas local. An attempt had been made earlier this summer to institute a new policy that would have radically expanded the grounds for “disaffiliating” party members and even entire locals for being “unGreen.” (Pinellas needed to keep its eye on things, since Sullivan had already privately threatened to disaffiliate the Pinellas local at the first opportunity.) That can of worms got kicked down the road to October, at least, but the bad intentions remain.
In any event, on the July CC call, Jen and her clique objected to my participation on the BC, even though other members of the prospective committee had said they had no problem with me being on it. No actual decision was made to exclude me.
But the BC went ahead and met without me, lacking even the good manners to notify me of my exclusion. I contacted BC member Jason Kofender via Facebook, and I asked:
Me: “What were the grounds for keeping me off the Bylaws Committee?”
Kofender: “We can’t hold up the work while everyone argues.”
Me: “I gather that some objected after that CC call while you were trying to get the meeting convened. What were the grounds for their objections? From a Rules point of view, rather than that they just don’t like me? Is that how we do business these days? From a Rules point of view, rather than that they just don’t like me? Does arguing constitute a legitimate veto?”
Kofender refused to give me any grounds for my exclusion other than that there had been arguing.
The CC met next on August 23, and Sean Declet reported on the BC’s first meeting. Per Jason’s instructions, Pinellas rep Jeremy Writt asked what the rules were for being on the committee.
Declet said it was 100% open to anyone who is a CC delegate or any member of a local who is interested and is an active green in a local that the local would like to represent their local on this committee. But they decided to exclude me until the banning issue was over.
Maggie then asked on what grounds I was excluded. Who made that decision that Jeff should not be on it?
Said Declet, the decision was made by three of the Board members who are also on the Bylaws Committee.
BC members also on the Board are: Emma Naclerio, Sean Declet, and Jason Kofender.
Jim Howe of Central Florida was next to object, asking on what authority three members of the Green Party usurped the power of the Council.
Jason Kofender then waxed most eloquent.
Jason: I will tell you my personal opinion, I don’t think anybody made a decision as the council, but my input to you as a CC member and to everybody else, is that these bylaws revisions are so important to the survival of our party that we are not going to hold up working on those revisions while other folks argue about whether Jeff should be on it or jeff should not be on it. Sean advocated for Jeff to be on it, I advocated for Jeff to be on it, but at the end of the day, we had to make a decision, that there is something above this issue, more important than this issue, more important than all of us, and that’s our party, and that’s our society and that’s our world, and we’re going to do what we need to do to make our party the best party we can make it, and I realize this issue … there are things above Jim and Jason and Sean and Emma and Jennifer and Victor and everybody else, and Jeff and Rose and Maggie, what’s more important than all of us as individuals are these bylaws, and we’re not going to hold up our revision of these bylaws, while folks argue about whether Jeff should be on it not on it. As Sean said 5 minutes ago, if Jeff is reinstated on it, he can be on the bylaws committee. But not only did Sean say that, that if somebody makes a proposal [requiring 2/3 approval] that says Jeff can be on the bylaws committee and that’s approved, then jeff can be on bylaws committee. … I’m not going to speak for anybody else, I’m doing everything I can to try to save this party, and sometimes we’ve got to compartmentalize. We’ve got to realize that while the Jeff and Rose votes are important, we’ve got something above these votes, and that’s these bylaws.
As the strains of “This Land is Your Land” faded, Maggie and Jim tried to pursue this further, but Facilitator Jen quashed all further discussion, as is her wont.
Sean and Jason suggested that Maggie could make a proposal to put me on the BC. But what kind of party requires people to propose that the GPFL should follow its own rules. Even then would take a 2/3 vote by the Council.
The travesty is exacerbated by the Minutes of this meeting that were submitted by Emma Neclario, GPFL Recording Secretary. The minutes omit the entire above discussion, and merely state, “New members in good standing are welcome to join or give input.” There was nothing in the discussion about “good standing” being a BC requirement. Merely Active members. So this is a deliberate lie, the Recording Secretary making up her own rule in order to cover up the illegality of my exclusion. Sorry, Emma. The minutes are supposed to be based on the actual proceedings of the meeting, not a 1984-style rewrite of what you think they should have been.
To summarize, it is the BC that is going to rewrite the GPFL Bylaws, and create the new rules for disaffiliating members and entire affiliates, working off of Sullivan’s prior draft calling for purge for “infiltration for nefarious ends,” or “caus[ing] legal threats to be brought upon the state party or other forms of extremely damaging harm to the party, because of unethical behavior, violation of the 10 key values or other legal infraction.”
A prescription for endless internal warfare that would make the Revolutionary Communist League International “green” with envy.
The BC will also likely be the body with the leading role in untangling the hideous mess that has been the conduct of the “re-examination” of the 2015 purge, including “what Rose and I were purged from” and how the entire process will be handled.
So the BC, above all other party bodies must be held to a higher standard of honesty, transparency and adherence to the rule of law than any other party body, a standard they have not yet adhered to. Kofender’s stirring statement, “that these bylaws revisions are so important to the survival of our party that we are not going to hold up working on those revisions while other folks argue about whether Jeff should be on it or Jeff should not be on it,” leaves the BC fatally tainted. Despite the rule being that BC participation is “100% open to anyone who is a delegate on the CC, further if there is a member of your local chapter who is interested in this issue who is not on the Council but is an active green in your local chapter.” Without qualification.
How would my being on the BC prevent that work from going forward? How would I threaten the very “survival of our party”?
I think there are actually answers. First, the Sullivan clique would fight to the bitter end to keep me out of the party’s activities that are mandated by the laws of the State of Florida itself. They would not allow a BC with me on it to function at all. This clique would rather threaten the survival of the party themselves rather than give an inch.
Secondly, the members of the BC, even the well-intentioned ones, lack the guts to have a direct fight with co-chairs Sullivan and Agosto in their destructive pursuit of this personal vendetta against me and Rose.
We are not in good hands.
— Jeff Roby